Lots of studies and reports have been conducted to analyze Apple’s success and marketing strategy. JupiterResearch launched this one, and I’m going to talk about it here on my blog, but for the record I personally prefer studies where you get full transparency. Can you read about exactly who was surveyed, and what questions they were asked? Not to get too off topic, but that’s why I prefer smaller media and research outlets who use online survey software to do their research. It’s way way way easier to get the raw data and draw better conclusions.
Anyway, I want to talk about the history of the iPod. So many of you kids and youngin’s are taking this marvelous piece of history for granted.
For example, did you know…
In the year 2000, music players were large and clumsy. The smaller versions were less than optimum. By the end of 2001, though, Apple had introduced the public to the iPod and the world of music was forever changed.
Selling for around $400 with an odd scroll wheel on the front, the first iPod may not have looked like it would revolutionize anything. However, the public was sold with the music quality and ease of use and the iPods were soon sailing off the shelves.
Apple’s strategy had worked, even with the off-putting price tag. Early in the game, the company’s geniuses had identified the growing potential for digital music and realized that there was no suitable player hardware available. It purposefully designed the iPod to meet this need and for it to appeal to the younger audience. Its sleek and sexy style was meant to attract the fashion conscious music lover of the day.
The all-white look was part of the branding. Its white ear pods became so easily recognizable that some were blaming them for a rise in street crime. The iPod had made it by making it cool to have one.
Hard Drives before Flash Drives
The iPod, even in its earliest iteration, could hold a lot of music on its five gigabyte hard drive, which only added to its popularity. The one area where it faltered was that it was only Macintosh compatible, which did put some brakes on the speed of its takeoff. Some Windows users, though, were willing to cross platforms to join the cool kids and enjoy a wealth of digitized music, so there was a slight increase in sales of Mac computers.
Then came 2003 and the third generation iPod and all bets were off. This iPod came bundled with Apple’s iTunes software, which now was compatible with both major computer platforms: Windows and Mac. That meant that a whole new market of Windows users had opened up. Apple ended up with a 90 percent share of the MP3 player market for those hard drive-based players and it controlled 70 percent overall.
The 2003 iPod also did away with the buttons that had adorned earlier versions, leaving the touch-sensitive wheel. Instead, it put the controls as a list under the LCD screen. It also used a 30-pin docking connector and there were versions with up to 30 GB.
In 2004, Apple upped the ante with the introduction of the tiny iPod Mini, which still had a good carrying capacity and which introduced the click wheel. The company would continue to release a number of versions that would include the iPod Shuffle, the iPod Photo, and the iPod Nano, each with ever newer, better interfaces, more colors, different sizes, a range of capacities, and, finally, video viewing capability.
By 2006, Apple still ruled the roost among a growing number of competitors. According to a report by JupiterResearch, the company was unlikely to lose its place at the top of the heap for at least another year to year and a half, while the number of users would grow from 37 million to 100 million by 2011. Then the newest competition could be ready to take over: iPhones and other smartphones. The year 2009 would mark the time when the number of phones with MP3 player ability would outdo the number of players of all flavors.
So it was predicted, so it has occurred. Now the Internet is sprouting articles with titles like, “Should You Still Buy MP3 Players?” and “Are MP3 Players Still Useful?” It seems only logical that the smartphone should take the place of the iPod and other competitors. They far exceed players by being able to take pictures, download apps, cruise the Internet, as well as play music. They also make phone calls, something the makers of the iPod never proposed to do.
Adding to all those advantages, phones now have music streaming capability built in and can tap into cloud storage. This means users can have literally millions of songs available at the touch of a virtual button.